An article in the Albany Times Union promotes a controversy brewing in local schools in upstate New York. A controversy in that schools are willing to close their doors during Christian and Jewish religious holidays - but not Muslim holidays.
Tucked away within the article is a supporting statement from Jay Worona, counsel for the New York State School Board Association (NYSSBA), in which he promotes a possible alternative to canceling classes. Worona states, "One request we have seen is for a room during Ramadan for students to pray in, and many districts are attempting to provide those."
What the reporter fails to note is that Worona, who apparently is in favor of separate prayer rooms for Muslim students, opposes the inclusion of a display containing the Ten Commandments in New York schools.
Interesting. A prayer room for Muslim students. What happened to the separation of religion and education, church and state? Or did that only apply to the assault on Christianity in our schools, the elimination of nativity scenes, the conversion of labels such as 'Christmas Break' to 'Winter Break', or the deletion of the phrase 'under God' from our Pledge of Allegiance?
Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, has said, "Penn & Teller's Nazi-like assault on Catholicism that took place on August 27 will go down in history as one of the most vile, obscene programs ever aired in any nation." However, will the show also go down in history for airing the most number of lies, falsehoods, and misleading statements in a single half-hour show?
Not counting credits, the guilty episode runs less than 26 minutes. Here's a lie-by-lie list of the falsehoods that Penn Jillette and his guests aired in that time:
1. Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in 2001, issued a "confidential order to every bishop" and "ordered the cover-up" of sex abuse.
Outraged advocates of same-sex marriage have forced the Washington Post into an apology for running a features piece last week that portrayed an opponent as more than an evil, bigoted, hatemongering fundamentalist.
The profile examined Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, one of the groups that lobbied for Proposition 8, the hotly-contested California State ballot initiative that explicitly defined marriage as between and man and a woman, overturning a State Supreme Court decision to the contrary.
Pundits on the left called the features piece, written by Monica Hesse—who says she is a bisexual and has had romantic relationships with women in the past—“absurd,” “bizarre,” and “accusatory and belittling.”
I was stunned to read on Life Site News that a new movie is being planned about Our Lady of Guadalupe, so-named for an appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531 that’s credited with converting nine million indigenous Mexicans to Christianity. The film, still untitled, will be produced by Mpower Pictures, the company that was launched with the pro-life movie "Bella" in 2006 and founded by "The Passion of the Christ" producer Steve McEveety.
That a movie would be made about Our Lady of Guadalupe is amazing, but that wasn’t half the surprise. The movie is being written by Joe Eszterhas. Yes, the same Joe Eszterhas responsible for screenwriting filthy movies like "Basic Instinct" and most infamously, "Showgirls," a movie so pornographic even the late Jack Valenti condemned it.
What I didn’t know until now is the story of the conversion of Joe Eszterhas in 2001, powerfully captured in his 2008 memoir entitled "Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith."
What would Jesus do? Well, Ed Schultz thinks he knows - that is on health care reform at least.
Schultz, on his Sept. 2 MSNBC program, "The ED Show" told viewers he believed Jesus would vote for a government public option. That, he said, was to the dismay of some on religious right, or what he used the pejorative "Bible thumpers" to describe.
"Now, I have been referring to the health care reform deal as the real moral issue of our time," Schultz said. "I believe Jesus would vote yes for a public option, but some Bible thumpers don't see me eye to eye on this one."
Schultz later elaborated on his statement, likening "fixing health care" to a moral obligation.
ABCNews.com republished a bigoted attack against a famously large Christian family on Tuesday. Amelia McDonell-Parry of gossip website TheFrisky.com snarked about Michelle Duggar's latest pregnancy in the post, stating that it "can't be good news...if you're at all concerned about overpopulation." She also hinted that Mrs. Duggar's daughter-in-law was forced to have a baby of her own.
Following last night's episode (Thu. 8/27/09) of Penn & Teller's show on Showtime, Bill Donahue, founder and president of the Catholic League said, "I have never seen a more defamatory, obscene and vicious show on TV." Folks, that is saying a lot. The man has dedicated his career to exposing anti-Catholicism.
According to Donahue, the foul-mouthed Penn Jillette billed last night's episode as "payback" for 2,000 years of alleged "crimes" by the Catholic Church. Wrote Donahue:
What do you call an excommunicated Catholic priest, ignorant of the sacraments, who openly calls for the ordination of women? If you're the Boston Globe, you call him a "prominent priest" who is "in good standing." Then, for good measure, you entitle the article about the priest, "Priest takes church to task for not ordaining women." Good ... grief.
The paper profiles dissident ex-priest Roy Bourgeois, a man ignorant of the teachings of the Church to which he was ordained. And the author of the slanted piece, Globe religion reporter Michael Paulson, fails to fully "take Bourgeois to task" for being so oblivious of such a fundamental facet of Church teaching.
On Friday’s Newsroom, CNN correspondent Dana Bash reported on Senator Ted Kennedy’s alleged “deep Catholic faith,” and zeroed-in on how he “used scripture in his push to end poverty and discrimination,” but chose a clip of his bungling a biblical citation. “My favorite parts of the Bible are always Matthew 25 through 35 [sic]- I was hungry and you gave me to eat, and thirsty, you gave me to drink” [audio clip available here].
Anchor Heidi Collins introduced Bash’s report, which shared a similar theme to AP’s report from Friday morning: “Senator Kennedy had spoken of his complicated relationship with the Catholic Church.” The CNN correspondent then highlighted how “Ted Kennedy’s family chose this church for his funeral Mass because he prayed here every day when daughter Kara was diagnosed with cancer, an example of his quiet, but deep Catholic faith.”
Jay Lindsay quoted almost exclusively from liberals in his report on Ted Kennedy’s Catholicism for the AP on Friday. Only one of those excerpted by Lindsay was a conservative, not counting Catholic Church officials.
The AP correspondent led his article, titled “Kennedy’s Catholicism source of comfort, conflict,” with some glowing language, but at least portrayed how the deceased senator was not always a faithful believer: “Sen. Edward Kennedy was raised from birth to cherish his Catholicism, and it became both a source of comfort and conflict throughout his life. The son of the country’s most famous Catholic family defied church teachings when he divorced his first wife, then was granted an annulment only after he admitted he wasn’t being honest when he promised her he’d be faithful. His most significant and public break with the church came with his support for abortion rights.”
Lindsay followed this summary about the Democrats’s “significant and public break” with Church teaching by countering that “Kennedy also advocated for signature Catholic causes, such as help for the poor, health care and immigration reform, and opposition to the Iraq war.” While the Church does do significant work on those three issues, and Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI voiced their opposition to the Iraq war, they do not raise to the same moral importance as abortion and the sanctity of marriage, contrary to what many Catholic dissenters might say.
Time’s Amy Sullivan seems to have a special assignment to try and play up the religiosity of liberal Democrats despite their libertine policy stands, from Barack Obama to Ted Kennedy. On Thursday, Sullivan underlined "Ted Kennedy’s Quiet Catholic Faith." How does that match with his ultraliberal political record on abortion and homosexuality, his perfect 100-percent scores with NARAL or the Human Rights Campaign? Sullivan simply ignores that obvious problem.
(HRC’s YouTube channel proudly shows Kennedy suggesting Jesse Helms might be in Hell at a March 2008 dinner. So much for Christian charity.)
Kennedy "fully embraced" the Catholic Church, Sullivan claimed:
Kennedy only fully embraced Catholicism later in life, particularly after marrying his second wife. Vicki Kennedy was one of a handful of prominent Catholic Democrats who strongly urged John Kerry to defend questions about his faith during the 2004 presidential campaign, and she served as a surrogate for the Obama campaign in 2008 in heavily Catholic areas.
Douglas Brinkley continued his use of religious imagery to gush about the legacy of Ted Kennedy and his apparent Catholicism on CNN’s Newsroom on Thursday. Brinkley did his best to paper over the many moral downfalls of the senator: “He’s asked to be forgiven by people. He did a kind of a redemptive work throughout his whole career. He would fall off the wagon....But he constantly said, I can do better.”
Near the end of the 12 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, anchor Tony Harris asked the liberal presidential historian and CBS commentator, “You hear...about some of the failings in the senator’s life, and what is it about us as people that- on a day like today- a day like yesterday, we are willing to, in many cases, look past some of those failings, and focus in on the positive arc of a person’s life?” Brinkley played up Kennedy’s Catholic background, and instead using the “martyr” term he used on Wednesday, used more general religious language in his answer:
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez accused anti-ObamaCare activists of forwarding “misrepresentations, and flat out lies in some cases” during a segment with “progressive” pastor and Obama apologist Jim Wallis on Wednesday’s Newsroom program. Sanchez placed the blame on the protesters relying “exclusively [on] right-wing media and right-wing television channels.”
The anchor brought on Reverend Wallis, the head of the “progressive Christian group Soujourners,” to discuss the phone-in town hall meeting he was hosting with President Obama. Midway through the interview, Sanchez raised the “wild behavior that we’ve seen in some of these health care forums” and made his first accusation against the anti-ObamaCare protesters: “When you hear, for example, some of the misrepresentations, and flat out lies in some cases, like calling things death panels and saying that people are going to be- old people are going to be killed, including some of them spread by people who profess to be Christians. How do you- how do you reconcile that as- as a Christian yourself?”
Newsflash: The media doesn't understand that the Catholic Church is not a democracy, and that the Vatican is not swayed by public opinion.
The proof of this disconnect came from ABC "World News Sunday" anchor Dan Harris and correspondent David Wright during the Aug. 16 "World News" broadcast. Wright's report on American nuns facing an apostolic visitation, labeled by Harris as "a controversial investigation," portrayed the Vatican as a big, bad bully of American nuns.
The late Dr. Yury Verlinsky, a scientist "who developed a technology that allows a search-and-destroy mission on human embryos" was heralded by the New York Times recently as a man who helped childless patients conceive healthy babies.
Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, more popularly known as "Rev. Ike", has gone to his reward. The 74-year old prosperity gospel huckster died on July 29 in Los Angeles.
But in covering the story, the Associated Press and the Washington Post have carelessly tarnished legitimate preachers of the Christian Gospel by association, by lumping in Eikerenkoetter with more biblically orthodox Protestant preachers as an "evangelist."
The Providence Journal’s coverage of the assault on traditional marriage advocates in Warwick, Rhode Island on July 28 has consistently downplayed how pepper spray was used on the conservative protesters, in favor of how food was thrown at them.
ProJo.com’s Wednesday report on the attack ran with the headline, “Same-sex marriage protesters assaulted with food,” and didn’t mention the pepper spray until the second-to-last paragraph. The following morning, reporter Kate Branson used a more nuanced headline (“Update: 4 accused of hurling food at activists in Warwick”), but at least mentioned the pepper spray in the second paragraph.
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, also known as the American TFP, is a conservative Catholic group based in the central Pennsylvania town of Spring Grove, and supported by hundreds of thousands of donors all over the U.S. They are conducting a “traditional marriage crusade” in the northeastern states of New York, Rhode Island, and Maine. “Caravans” of their young volunteers are traveling across those three states, and stop at busy intersections, holding signs expressing their support of traditional marriage, which they believe to be a sacrament.
The top of Sunday’s Metro section of The Washington Post focused on anti-gay "hate." The headline was "A Sanctuary From Hate: Pastor, D.C. Church Offer Gay African Americans A Message of Acceptance and Responsibility."
What followed was a splashy article by reporter Darryl Fears with five photographs that offered no reply or rebuttal from the alleged forces of "hate," and no real exploration of what the church was teaching, beyond acceptance and preaching "safe sex." Fears described the tiny church sympathetically:
Inner Light Ministries in the District's H Street corridor might seem like a traditional black church, with fiery sermons, electric gospel music, a soulful choir and a congregation that sways and claps in rhythm. But it is hardly that.
For 16 years, it has served as a sanctuary for a small community of black gays and lesbians who say they feel shunned from all directions -- by black men and women who give them cutting looks of disapproval, by mainstream black ministers who condemn homosexuality, and by white gays who make them feel unwelcome in subtle ways, such as switching from hip-hop to country music in a club when too many black men hit the dance floor.
When it comes to awful movies, Pat Buchanan once quipped he didn’t have to look underneath a manhole cover to know there’s a sewer down below. The smutty new movie "Bruno" can be read by its cover. In the midst of a barrage of crude sexual humor, master satirist Sacha Baron Cohen is once again exposing Americans for what Time magazine calls their "ignorance and prejudice, hypocrisy and primitive rage."
Yes, I’m sure it has its funny moments, and some are laugh-out-loud hilarious. I say I’m sure because I really don’t know. I was on my way to the theater when I reversed course. I’m not going to give these slimy people $9.50, or $1.50. Besides, it’s all there on the Internet.
In his last film, "Borat," Cohen played an idiotic journalist from Kazakhstan who attempted to expose unsuspecting people as misogynistic, racist, and anti-Semitic. The new title character of "Bruno" is a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion reporter who is going to expose the raging "homophobia" in America, especially the South (also targeted in the last film).
In a highly individualistic and pluralistic America, there's some truth to the notion that the average religious Protestant tends to be a bit of a church shopper. Recent polling data have shown that American Christians tend to hop around a bit over their lifetime between different denominations. So in some respect, the spiritual smorgasbord that is the American religious scene could be viewed, crassly, as a marketplace of competing brands and tastes.
That being said, it's not the only or primary lens through which religious reporters should see their beat. Enter US News & World Report "God & Country" blogger Dan Gilgoff, who wrote last week on the Episcopal Church USA's move to allow the ordination of openly gay clergy.
In a follow-up blog post entitled "Tapping the Market for Gay-Friendly Churches," Gilgoff painted the ECUSA and other liberal mainline churches as having been unable thus far to successfully market themselves to apolitical evangelicals. Yet in doing so, Gilgoff reveals not only that he views religious denominations as competing brands, but that he confuses fundamentally theological and ethical concerns with political ones (emphasis mine):
Newsweek took their criticism of Pope Benedict XVI to the next level on Thursday- not only did guest columnist Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend affirm that the pontiff could learn from President Obama (something Newsweek and their partners at the Washington Post agreed upon back in April), but also blasted the Bishop of Rome and the Catholic hierarchy for their supposed “disdain” towards women and homosexuals.
The former lieutenant governor of Maryland began her column, titled "Without a Doubt: Why Barack Obama represents American Catholics better than the pope does," with the context of the pope’s upcoming meeting with the American president, and how it was “much anticipated and in some circles frowned upon by American Catholics in the wake of Obama’s controversial Notre Dame commencement speech in May.” She then laid out her central thesis about these two leaders: “In truth, though, Obama’s pragmatic approach to divisive policy...and his social-justice agenda reflect the views of American Catholic laity much more closely than those vocal bishops and pro-life activists...[T]hey’ll politely disagree about reproductive freedoms and homosexuality, but Catholics back home won’t care, because they know Obama’s on their side. In fact, Obama’s agenda is closer to their views than even the pope’s.”
Two major wire services- AP and Reuters- cherry picked excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical (a teaching document of the Catholic Church) on Tuesday to support left-wing economic and political positions, and all but ignored the pontiff’s traditional stances on the family, bioethics, and the environment. The AP also went so far to bring up “the state of the Vatican’s own [financial] books.”
Both Philip Pullella, who regularly writes about the Pope and the Vatican for Reuters, and the AP’s Nicole Winfield zeroed in on paragraph 67 of the encyclical, which is titled “Caritas in Veritate,” or “Charity in Truth,” which was released was signed by the Bishop of Rome on June 29, and released on Tuesday. In this paragraph, to use Pullella’s lede, “Pope Benedict…called for a ‘world political authority’ to manage the global economy.” Winfield put it this way near the beginning of her article: “In the third encyclical of his pontificate, Benedict pressed for reform of the United Nations and international economic and financial institutions to give poorer countries more of a say in international policy.”
While Pope Benedict did call for a “world political authority” and a “reform of the United Nations,” both authors (not to mention spectators on the left and the right) missed the context of this call. Later in his article, Pullella speculated that “the pope appeared to back government intervention ‘in correcting errors and malfunctions’ in the economy, saying ‘one could foresee an increase in the new forms of political participation, nationally and internationally.’” But this “government intervention” would not go so far to the level of a micromanaging/centrally-planning regime, if one goes by the pontiff’s own words in the encyclical.
It seems that on July fourth, The New York Times saw fit to smirk at both American patriotism and Christianity. A recent Times article about the erection of a giant, though strategically altered, replica of the Statue of Liberty by a showman of a Memphis pastor presented a perfect example of the ridicule and disdain with which the Times views Christianity and American patriotism, both. In Memphis, Tennessee, writer Shalia Dewan could barely hide her sarcasm and distaste for the patriotism and the muscular Christianity espoused by Pastor Alton R. Williams in her coverage of the unveiling of the 72-foot-tall statue.
Tellingly, the entire top third of Dewan's piece is filled with mockery, mischacterization, inapt comparison and quote after quote from Pastor Williams' detractors. It isn't until the initial ridicule is over that writer Dewan finally gives the pastor room to explain what his purpose and principle is in creating the odd pean to Lady Liberty.
In a June 28 "The Seeker" blog post asking, "[s]hould gay flocks have their own churches," Chicago Tribune religion reporter Manya Brachear failed to find a conservative, orthodox Christians or Jews to level a warning about the incompatibility of homosexuality and those faith traditions.
"Three area churches who cater to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians are marching in today's Gay Pride parade," Brachear noted in opening her 16-paragraph post. "Should gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender flocks have their own sanctuaries? Or does the concept of a LGBT congregation encourage an isolation within faith communities that defies the very purpose of assembling for worship?"
Brachear then went on to cite a Christian pastor and a Jewish rabbi to defend their gay-oriented congregations. Both cited the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt in defense of their sexually-oriented ecclesiology.
Yet despite the Trib's insistence in her profile that "Chicago Tribune religion reporter Manya Brachear embodies the journalist’s quest for truth and the personal search for Truth--with a capital T," the so-called Seeker failed to consult religious conservatives among Jewish and Christian traditions in the Windy City who would rebuke the practice of homosexuality as incompatible with the teachings of those faiths.
Time’s Amy Sullivan, who worked tirelessly to sell Barack Obama as an acceptable choice for Bible-toting Evangelicals -- a choice that most evangelicals didn't accept -- reported Obama has refused to pick a D.C. church as his religious home. In his latest move copying George W. Bush, he’s going to designate the Evergreen Chapel at Camp David as his official church. Now go away, she insists to people still disturbed by his longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright.
She quotes Obama religion adviser Vashti McKenzie: "Everybody needs to just back off and settle down. Let him choose where he's comfortable, choose where he and his family are going to be spiritually fed, and then let it be his choice." Sullivan added her own "Amen."
Between the lines, a cynic can see all the political convenience on display: no flashy minister, and not much ministerial contact either:
In Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Randy Cohen’s column titled "The Ethicist" has a perfectly liberal sense of ethics. First, he told a nurse-midwife to help illegal aliens use their aliases when they miss work due to pregnancy-related appointments. (His compromise: create a form and leave the name blank, and let them fill in the fraudulent name. How ethical.)
From there, Cohen agreed with a Portland man studying to become a Catholic priest that receiving scholarships in preparation for a lifelong vow of poverty is sexist: "You might regard yourself as preparing to be a beneficiary of entrenched workplace discrimination, an ethically troubling position."
This is the entire exchange:
I belong to a Catholic religious order and am in formation to become a priest. As part of my training, I attended a university that was founded by my order and whose president is a priest and a member of the order. Nonreligious students also attend, but we religious students receive scholarships. Is this akin to any other scholarship, like that for an athlete, or is it discriminatory, especially because the order does not admit women? – NAME WITHHELD, PORTLAND, ORE.
On Thursday's The O'Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O'Reilly gave attention to threatening tactics from some on the far left, as he focused on the case of a Bishop from the D.C. area who became a target after speaking out against same-sex marriage. O'Reilly began the interview:
For example, if you oppose gay marriage, some far-left people will try to hurt you, as Bishop Harry Jackson is finding out, and the Bishop joins us now from Washington, D.C. Now, since you made the gay marriage issue a centerpiece of your commentary, because you are a traditional guy and you believe in traditional man-woman marriage, what's happened to you?
If you've ever wondered why the mainstream media didn't show much curiosity about how 20 years of attending Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church shaped President Barack Obama, there is a perfectly logical explanation. Obama wasn't really there.
According to Richard Wolffe, an MSNBC contributor and former Newsweek columnist that covered the Obama presidential campaign for the weekly magazine, people don't have to worry about the rantings and ravings of Obama's controversial preacher having any impact on his world view because he wasn't there.
For all the bluster from the Left during the Bush administration about the doctrine of preemptive warfare, it seems at least one journalist favors the doctrine adapted for use within the U.S. justice system to prevent lone-wolf terroristic violence.
U.S. News & World Report contributor and PBS "To the Contrary" host Bonnie Erbe on June 11 sounded a decidedly authoritarian note in a Thomas Jefferson Street blog post in which she called for "rounding up" hatemongers like James von Brunn or Scott Roeder before they turn violent.
The Washington Post displayed bad headline-writing technique on Saturday in religion coverage. The paper picked up a Religion News dispatch by Daniel Burke on retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland and his admission of homosexuality. The headline was "A Church Leader’s Unusual Confession." Weakland admitted he had violated his vow of celibacy and had homosexual relationships, but he did not "confess," since he wasn’t suggesting it was a grave sin and that he wanted to reject it.
Instead, Burke quotes from Weakland’s new book, about when his improper relationship with Paul Marcoux became public:
"It may seem strange, but I felt a new freedom, a sense of being liberated for the first time," Weakland writes. "It had become public knowledge that my orientation was homosexual. There was nothing more to hide; no one could do anything more to me. I was free."
That’s hardly in line with Catholic teaching on homosexuality, which is defined as a mortal sin that a man or woman should confess and repent and pledge to do no more. The orientation, if not acted upon, is not the problem. Engaging in intercourse, as the Archbishop did, is the grave sin.